My Welcome to Valdosta: A Newcomer Testimonial by Marie Sooy

“Six years ago my husband and I moved to Valdosta from Miami. We were both retired and Miami was getting too expensive, so we decided to get out and move somewhere closer to our family. One day my husband, who was looking on the computer for possible places to move to, asked me, “What about Valdosta?” I said, “Valdosta, Georgia?!” I never even thought of leaving Florida, but he discovered that homes were very reasonable there. So, we came up for a weekend to check out the town. It was love at first sight. Everything was so beautiful, and the people we met were so friendly. We found a house that had everything I was looking for, a pool, a large kitchen, and a large covered deck. As we were driving to Valdosta, I got a call from Patti Minton from South Georgia Connections. She said that a high school classmate of mine from Tallahassee called her and asked her to welcome us to Valdosta by putting a banner saying “Welcome to Valdosta” on our lawn. She said that they don’t do that, but she wanted to come over to welcome us and bring us information about the area. I had heard of this happening in movies, but I didn’t think it actually happened in real life! Patti came over with an armful of wonderful information about the community. I asked her about the Red Hat Society. I had been a member of it in Miami, and I wanted to be in it here. She said that she knew someone who was in it and she would ask her to contact me. I was contacted by Jerry Kozuch from the Mad Hatters, and she and I have become close friends. Since moving to Valdosta, I have gotten involved in the Senior Center and Learning in Retirement, where I teach classes. After living in Miami for so many years, where people were not friendly at all, moving to Valdosta was a culture shock, but a good one. Strangers say hello to us. As we drive around our neighborhood, people who are walking will wave at us. We have embraced the love and friendship we have received here, and it all started when Patti Minton came to welcome us to this wonderful town. Thank you Patti!” – Marie Sooy